Welcome to another edition of the Doctor’s Note, where we talk about what’s on our minds when it comes to your health. 

This week we are going to continue our Stay Healthy Protocol Series with MY GUIDE TO TAKING VITAMINS. 

I’m big on vitamins. 

I used to be skeptical about taking a lot of vitamins, but after 36 years of practicing medicine I’m a huge believer, taking a lot of vitamins myself! 

You’d be surprised if you saw my vitamin bin!

I’ve come to realize that if you take vitamins, you just don’t get sick as often. You have more energy. You sleep better. Your skin and hair are better. Your bones and muscles are stronger. And your brain works better. 

Taking vitamins helps boost your immune system, which helps fight off these nasty viruses. 

I recommend lots of vitamins. With that being said, there needs to be a strategy for when and how you take your supplements so that your body will get the most benefit.  

When should you take your vitamins? 

Should you take them on an empty or full stomach?

How far apart should you space them out during the day? 

In this Note I’m going to answer those questions, plus give you some practical tips from my own personal vitamin regimen.   

Admittedly, I’ve had to change my strategy now that I do intermittent fasting. I don’t eat breakfast so I don’t take as many vitamins in the morning. I do, however, take a few on an empty stomach. I’ll explain which ones and why later on in this Note. 

 

Vitamins and Minerals 

 

When we talk about supplementing, we’re usually talking about taking vitamins and minerals. 

It’s important to understand the difference between the two. 

Vitamins are organic (made by plants and animals). 

Minerals are inorganic (elements that come from the soil or water). 

There are many vitamins and minerals that are essential (i.e. you must have them) either through foods or supplements. Foods are the best way, although I haven’t met a person yet who doesn’t need to supplement. 

There are 13 essential vitamins: 

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K 
  • 8 of the B Vitamins

There are 16 essential minerals: 

  • Calcium 
  • Phosphorous 
  • Sodium 
  • Potassium 
  • Magnesium 
  • Manganese
  • Sulfur
  • Chloride
  • Iron
  • Iodine
  • Fluoride
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Selenium
  • Chromium
  • Cobalt 

 

Spacing Out Your Vitamins

 

You need to space out your vitamins. 

To do this you must keep it simple and plan them out. 

Here is my simple plan: 

  • I lay out all of my vitamins once a month in a big bin. 
  • I take my vitamins 4 times during the day.

There are three “basic times” to take your vitamins: on an empty stomach, with food, and at night. 

On an empty stomach = one hour before you eat or two hours after. 

This is for your water soluble vitamins. 

Vitamins to take on an empty stomach (most likely in the morning depending on your eating habits): 

  • Vitamin C
  • B Vitamins 

With food = with a fatty snack or meal. 

This is for your fat soluble vitamins. 

Vitamins to take with food: 

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K 

Vitamins that should NOT be taken together =  at least 2 hours apart. 

It turns out that some vitamins and minerals compete with each other even though they are both essential. 

A good example of this is Calcium and Magnesium. Calcium isn’t absorbed in your bones unless you have Magnesium with it, but when taken at the same time neither one will be as effective. 

I’m not a huge fan of Calcium supplements anyway, but you want to avoid taking these two together.

Here are some other vitamins to space out (take at least 2 hours a part): 

  • Vitamin E and Vitamin D
  • Fish Oil and Ginkgo
  • Copper and Zinc 
  • Vitamin C and Vitamin B12
  • Iron and Green tea 

 

Nutrient Deficiencies 

 

Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in the world. When you are iron deficient there aren’t enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to all of the tissues and brain.

It causes anemia, which is mostly in women, children, vegetarians and vegans. 

Iron is so important. Do not take iron with milk or dairy (it decreases absorption). Take it on an empty stomach with Vitamin C. Never take iron without getting your levels checked. Too much iron is bad. Iron can cause stomach problems (like constipation) so you have to watch out for that.

Note: 65 mg of elemental iron is equal to 325 mg of ferrous sulfate, so talk to your doctor about how much iron you may need, if deficient. To measure iron we look at a ferritin level. 

Other notable and common deficiencies: 

  • Iodine
  • Vitamin D
  • B12
  • Calcium 
  • Vitamin A
  • Magnesium

You need these vitamins and minerals. 

 

Practical Tips

 

In this last section, I want to bullet point some practical tips that can help you as you take more and more vitamins. 

 

  • To measure iron we look at a ferritin level (your stored iron). If you can’t get your iron levels up, think about the form and whether or not you’re taking it with Vitamin C. 

 

  • Take Vitamin C and B Complex on an empty stomach. 

 

  • Take most of your vitamins with food. I take most of my vitamins at lunch and dinner.  

 

  • I also take these herbs with dinner: Aged Garlic, Beet Root, and Lion’s Mane. 

 

  • Space Zinc and Copper out. 

 

  • Listen to your body and stomach. 

 

  • Add one vitamin at a time. Don’t add a bunch of vitamins to your regimen at once. Never try to start two medicines at once. 

 

  • Make sure your vitamins are dated and tested by outside sources (this is why I love LifeExtension). Vitamins can go out of date and not be as bioavailable to you. 

 

  • Take Vitamin D with K if you are over 40.

 

  • I take my vitamins 4 times a day. 

 

  • I take Magnesium, Melatonin and an 81mg Aspirin at night. 

 

  • I take CoQ10 at lunch for energy in the afternoon. 

 

  • I take my vitamins 6 days a week. 

 

  • If you miss a dose, don’t make up for it the next day. Just don’t worry about it. 

 

  • Plan your vitamins. 

 

  • Most importantly, you need to EAT RIGHT. Eat healthy organic food, especially green colorful veggies and wild caught fish. Drink plenty of filtered water as well. 

 

What we’re trying to do is build up your immune system and those antioxidants. Your aging body is in a continual state of repair and VITAMINS HELP!!

If you found this article helpful, share with a friend who is also starting to take more vitamins! 

 

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